(CNN) – As a Democrat in conservative West Virginia, Sen. Joe Manchin has sought to make his independence clear.
And that independence might just extend all the way to the November voting booth, as the senator – who is up for re-election - said in a report published Thursday that he might not cast a ballot for the top name on his party's ticket, President Barack Obama.
- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
"Right now in West Virginia, these first three and a half years haven't been that good to West Virginia," he said of the Obama presidency this week, according to a report in the National Journal. "So, then you look [at] what the options will be, who will be on the other end."
Manchin expressed reservations about GOP candidate Mitt Romney, and said he would base his eventual decision on what is best for his constituents, who look at "the performance and the result that's been attained."
In a statement to CNN, Manchin said his comments were nothing new.
"I have some real differences with both Governor Romney and the President, as I have said many times," he said in the statement. "I think there are many West Virginians like me who have deep concerns about Governor Romney understanding the challenges ordinary people face. And there are many West Virginians who believe that he's out of touch, especially because of his plan to end Medicare as we know it and privatize Social Security."
His differences with Obama include energy policy and "the need to get our financial house in order."
The former West Virginia governor is known for bucking not only the opposition party, but his own – even literally shooting a rifle through a Democratic-backed cap and trade bill in his 2010 Senate campaign.
That race was a special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd, and Manchin's support from Republicans and Independents was key to his 11-point defeat of former state GOP chair John Raese.
Manchin was one of about a dozen Democrats to side in a March vote with Republicans on the Keystone XL pipeline. He voted against both parties' bills to raise the federal government's debt ceiling in the heated showdown last summer.
He was also one of about a dozen Democrats to vote against their party in the March Senate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama was no fan of.
But national Republicans point out that when Obama first ran for the White House in 2008, Manchin was a supporter of the then-senator from Illinois. They say that Manchin started becoming more vocal in his opposition to the administration only after he decided to run for the Senate in 2010.
"No amount of election-year rhetoric from Senator Manchin will cause voters in West Virginia to forget that three years ago he unabashedly supported President Obama, while predicting great things for West Virginia under his Administration. Instead of trying to put distance between he and the President as they both face re-election, Senator Manchin should be more focused on a simple, three word message to his constituents – 'I am sorry,'" National Republican Senatorial Campaign Communications Director Brian Walsh told CNN.
Manchin said that regardless of ideology, "I strongly believe that every American should always be rooting for our President to do well, no matter which political party that he or she might belong to."
He was formerly the two-term governor of the state, and is again running against Raese. Two of the top non-partisan political handicappers, the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report, say that as of now, the seat is likely to stay in Democratic hands.